MIAMI — Portuguese wet-lease specialist, Hi Fly, has taken delivery of its first Airbus A380-800, becoming the world’s first second-hand operator of the largest passenger plane on earth.
The carrier is now the fourth European airline to operate the aircraft type and the 14th in the world.
Hi Fly has become the world’s largest wet-leasing company, boasting an all-Airbus fleet of Airbus A330s, A340s, and now A380s.
The Wet-Leasing Business
Wet-leasing is a common practice in the aviation industry where companies like Hi Fly furnish clients with aircraft, maintenance, and insurance during short- and medium- periods of time.
The current shortage of Boeing 787 Dreamliners equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines has caused a spike in the wet-leasing segment of the industry.
Norwegian adds a leased A340-500 through mid-3Q18: Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) will wet-lease an A340-500 from Hi Fly (5K, Lisbon) to cover its Barcelona El Prat base's summer operational requirements. ch-aviation analysis of schedule data indicates… https://t.co/yNmVyD3Heo pic.twitter.com/EECWWewRyh
— ch-aviation (@chaviation) May 29, 2018
Airlines like Norwegian—who exclusively operate Rolls-Royce-engined 787s—have had to wet-lease aircraft from Hi Fly to keep its operations running while the engine manufacturer finishes repairing the damaged power plants.
Hi Fly’s business has also been on the rise, with the airline expecting to take delivery of two brand-new Airbus A330s.
Close to taking delivery of two new A330-200 aircraft, Hi Fly President Paulo Mirpuri and Vice-President Carlos Mirpuri visited @Airbus headquarters and final assembly line in Toulouse. #hifly #hiflyairline #a330 📷A.Doumenjou / Airbus pic.twitter.com/AOog9yends
— Hi Fly (@hifly_airline) May 17, 2018
As the wet-leasing business continues to draw in positive results for the Portuguese company, Hi Fly announced that it had acquired two ex-Singapore Airlines A380s in April, which the Asian carrier had retired after a short lifespan of a decade in operation.
The two planes, destined for the scrap yard, hadn’t found a second home until the Portuguese carrier set its eyes on an all-new business opportunity.
A New Beginning For The A380
“We welcome the arrival of the Airbus A380 in our fleet, and we are extremely happy with the market reaction so far on this new availability in our wet lease product offering,” said Paulo Mirpuri, Hi Fly’s President, and CEO.
Although Hi Fly has not disclosed who the first wet-leasing client will be for the A380, the plane is confirmed to have arrived in Malta for repainting at Aviation Cosmetics Ltd.
According to Aviation Analyst, Alex Macheras, the plane will be painted in Hi Fly’s new livery. However, the airline has not confirmed this statement.
Both A380s, joining Hi Fly on a leasing agreement with Doric, will be registered in Malta under Hi Fly’s Maltese division.
The first plane, originally delivered to Singapore Airlines in 2008, has been appointed the Maltese registration 9H-MIP (ex 9V-SKC • MSN 006).
The plane flew from Singapore to Malta, making a stop in Abu Dhabi.
As the ‘Super A380’ landed in Luqa Airport, Malta’s Minister for Transport, Ian Borg, announced that “this is the first operational A380 to be flown by a Maltese carrier under the Maltese Flag.”
Hi Fly’s A380 Cabin Offerings
The airline’s A380s are fitted to carry up to 471 passengers in a three-class configuration, the airline said.
“The A380, besides being the largest and most comfortable airliner in the world, is a star and the preferred aircraft from a customer experience perspective, including double first class suites, lounges, extra-large business class seats and individual IFE at each ergonomic economy seat,” explained the CEO
The plane’s main deck comes with 12 First class seats in the front section, as well as 311 Economy Class seats behind.
The upper deck offers 60 Business Class seats in the front section, followed by 88 Economy Class seats.
However, Hi Fly has disclosed that it might offer a high-density variant, capable of carrying up to 853 passengers.
For situations like the one Norwegian is going through with the Dreamliner shortage, a high-density A380 might prove useful— mainly because the low-cost-carrier does not offer First or Business Class on any of its flights.
Should a high-density A380 version materialize, Hi Fly will become the airline offering the most passenger seats inside an airplane, ever.
Regarding entertainment, Hi Fly says that each A380 seat will be fitted with “state-of-the-art technology and truly luxurious cabin interiors.”
“Each seat will have its own in-seat IFE system by Panasonic eX2 providing the passengers with great in-flight entertainment options and an optimized user experience,” explains the airline.
Brought the national football team of Peru for a friendly match against Saudi Arabia in St.Gall to Zurich.
9H-JAI | Airbus A340-313 | Hi Fly Malta(opf. Estelar Latinoamerica) | 31.5.18 zrh pic.twitter.com/wbXc8UyVsU
— LSZH Spotter (@Schmidy_87) May 31, 2018
These two A380s will join an existing fleet of six Airbus A340-300s, and two A330-200s at the airline’s Maltese AOC.
However, the Portuguese AOC also boasts two A340-300s, two A340-500s, three A330-200s, and one narrow-body A321.